Jiří Procházka is a Czech mixed martial artist who has made a name for himself in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). As of February 14, 2023, the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings place him at #11 and he holds the top spot in the UFC light heavyweight rankings.Procházka’s rise to success in the UFC can be attributed to his impressive track record in other organizations, as well as his natural talent and dedication to martial arts.
Early Life and Athletic Background
On October 14, 1992, Procházka was born in the southern Moravian region of Czechoslovakia, which is now known as the Czech Republic. Despite losing his father at a young age, Procházka was determined to succeed in life. As a child, he played amateur football for TJ Družstevník Hostěradice and was also an active freestyle BMX rider and floorball player. However, Procházka’s true passion lay in martial arts.
Street Fighting and Transition to MMA
Procházka developed an interest in martial arts after being introduced to videos of kickboxer Ramon Dekkers and mixed martial artists Mirko Filipovic and Fedor Emelianenko by a friend. After watching the film Never Back Down, he was inspired to begin training in martial arts. However, Procházka’s journey to becoming a professional MMA fighter was not without its challenges.
During his teenage years, Procházka was frequently involved in street fights and took part in more than 100 of them. His participation in these fights led him to join the hooligan club associated with his local soccer team, FC Zbrojovka Brno. As part of the group, he engaged in organized street fights with other teams’ clubs, and even participated in 30-on-30 brawls.
Despite his rough beginnings, Procházka eventually found his way to the world of professional MMA. He became the inaugural Rizin Fighting Federation Light Heavyweight Champion and the inaugural Gladiator Fighting Championship Light Heavyweight Champion before joining the UFC in 2020.
Jiří Procházka’s MMA Career: From GFC Champion to Rizin Fighter
Gladiator Fighting Championship Debut and Success
Jiří Procházka commenced his professional mixed martial arts career in April 2012, making his debut for Gladiator Fighting Championship (GFC), which was the most prominent promotion in the Czech Republic at the time. In his first two years of fighting professionally, he secured a record of 7-2.
Inaugural GFC Light Heavyweight Champion
On December 7, 2013, in his tenth professional bout, Jiří Procházka competed against Czech MMA pioneer Martin Šolc for the first-ever GFC Light Heavyweight Championship at GCF 26 FN. The match was a closely contested back-and-forth affair, but Procházka ultimately emerged victorious with a spectacular flying knee knockout that went viral throughout the Czech Republic. His outstanding performance earned him a post-fight bonus, and the fight was later recognized as the ‘Czech Fight of the Year’ by major media outlets, further cementing his reputation as an up-and-coming MMA star.
Defending the Title and Signing with Rizin
On June 6, 2014, Jiří Procházka defended his GFC Light Heavyweight Championship title against Tomáš Penz at GCF 28: Cage Fight 4, and secured a stunning technical knockout victory in just 41 seconds via a flying knee.
Following his win against Evgeni Kondratov, Procházka signed a contract with Rizin Fighting Federation, a leading Japanese MMA organization. With an impressive record of 14-2-1 in his first three years of professional MMA fighting, he made history by becoming the first-ever Czech fighter to join Rizin in 2015. This move marked a significant step forward in his career, as Rizin is renowned for featuring some of the most elite and highly skilled fighters in the world of MMA.
Jiří Procházka’s early success in GFC and his subsequent move to Rizin Fighting Federation set the stage for his continued rise to fame in the world of mixed martial arts.
Jiří Procházka’s career in Rizin Fighting Federation
Jiří Procházka is a Czech mixed martial artist who competed in the Rizin Fighting Federation. Here is a breakdown of his career in the organization:
Heavyweight Grand Prix
On December 29, 2015, Jiří Procházka made his highly anticipated debut at the Rizin World Grand Prix 2015 –100 kg tournament against Satoshi Ishii. He managed to secure an impressive victory with a first-round knockout. In the semifinals, at Iza no Mai on December 31, 2015, Procházka dominated Vadim Nemkov and secured a technical knockout victory.
Despite his impressive run, Procházka fell short in the tournament final, losing to Muhammed Lawal via a brutal knockout. The defeat was a major setback for Procházka, who was widely considered as one of the most promising fighters in the tournament. Nonetheless, his outstanding performances earned him the recognition of the Rizin fans and officials, who applauded his explosive fighting style and never-give-up attitude.
It’s worth noting that Procházka weighed in at 95.9 kgs (211.5 pounds) for the tournament, showcasing his ability to compete at the highest level despite being undersized for the division. His performance in the Rizin World Grand Prix 2015 –100 kg tournament paved the way for him to become one of the most exciting and dynamic fighters in the world of MMA.
Catchweight and return to Light Heavyweight
Procházka fought Kazuyuki Fujita on April 17, 2016, at Rizin 1 at a catchweight of 110 kgs (242.5 pounds), winning via technical knockout in the first round. He defeated Mark Tanios via unanimous decision at Rizin 2 – Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix 2016: Opening Round on September 25, 2016, but suffered a knee injury during the fight and was pulled out of the tournament.
Procházka returned to the Light Heavyweight division and fought and won against Willian Roberto Alves at Fusion FN 16 – Cage Fight on September 29, 2017, via technical knockout in the first round. He continued his success with a win over Karl Albrektsson at Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix 2017 – Bantamweight Tournament: 2nd Round on December 29, 2017, winning via technical knockout in the first round.
Procházka continued his winning streak with a knockout victory over Bruno Cappelozza at Rizin 11 on July 28, 2018, and a technical knockout victory over Jake Heun at Rizin 13 on September 30, 2018. He was scheduled to fight Emanuel Newton on December 31, 2018, at Rizin 14 but faced and defeated Brandon Halsey via technical knockout in the first round after Newton was pulled out of the fight due to a rib injury.
Inaugural Light Heavyweight Champion
Jiří Procházka’s career continued to soar as he faced Muhammed Lawal for the second time on April 21, 2019, at Rizin 15, where the inaugural Rizin FF Light Heavyweight Championship was on the line. The fight was a thrilling back-and-forth battle, with both fighters exchanging heavy shots. In the third round, Procházka landed a devastating elbow strike that knocked out Lawal, securing him the championship belt via technical knockout.
Procházka’s next challenge came on October 12, 2019, at Rizin 19: Lightweight Grand Prix 1st Round, where he faced off against Fábio Maldonado at a catchweight of 100 kgs (220.4 pounds). The fight didn’t last long as Procházka unleashed a barrage of strikes, knocking Maldonado out in the first round.
Later that year, Procházka defended his title against C. B. Dollaway on December 31, 2019, at Rizin 20. Once again, Procházka wasted no time and secured another quick victory, this time via knockout in the first round.
After the fight, Procházka’s contract with Rizin expired, and he decided to sign a new deal with the UFC, vacating his title. His impressive performance in Rizin and his undeniable talent made him a highly sought-after fighter in the MMA world. The move to UFC presented an opportunity for Procházka to prove himself against the best fighters in the world and cement his place as one of the top light heavyweights in the sport.
Jiri Procházka’s UFC Career Highlights and Achievements
Debut and Contender Fight
Jiri Procházka signed a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in January 2020, marking his debut against former UFC Light Heavyweight title challenger Volkan Oezdemir on July 11, 2020, at UFC 251. Procházka put on a remarkable performance, winning the fight via knockout in the second round and earning a Performance of the Night bonus award.
Following his debut, Procházka was scheduled to face Dominick Reyes, a two-time UFC Light Heavyweight Championship title challenger, on February 27, 2021, at UFC Fight Night 186. However, Reyes pulled out due to injury, and the bout was postponed to May 1, 2021, at UFC on ESPN: Reyes vs. Procházka. The back-and-forth fight was a thriller, with Procházka ultimately emerging as the winner via knockout in the second round, earning both the Performance of the Night and Fight of the Night bonus awards. Procházka’s impressive performances quickly earned him a place in the UFC’s light heavyweight rankings, where he currently holds the number one spot.
UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
On June 11, 2022, Jiří Procházka competed against Glover Teixeira for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 275, after the bout was postponed from May 7, 2022, for unknown reasons. The fight was a thrilling back-and-forth battle with both fighters getting dropped multiple times. Procházka showed incredible resilience, surviving a brutal knockdown in the fourth round, and ultimately secured a win via rear-naked choke submission in the fifth round, making him the first Czech fighter to win a UFC championship. His outstanding performance earned him the Fight of the Night award and the Crypto.com “Fan Bonus of the Night” award paid in bitcoin, worth US$20,000 for second place.
However, the celebration was short-lived. In December 2022, Procházka was scheduled to have a rematch with Teixeira at UFC 282, but he had to pull out due to a right shoulder injury. Consequently, he was forced to vacate the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
Personal life of Jiří Procházka
Bushido principles and philosophy Jiří Procházka is known for being a devoted follower of the Bushido principles, a set of moral values that originated from samurai warriors in feudal Japan. He also admires the teachings and philosophy of Miyamoto Musashi, a famous Japanese swordsman and philosopher. Procházka has credited Musashi’s The Book of Five Rings as a life-changing book for him.
Football hooliganism and career
Before embarking on his combat sports career, Jiri Prochazka had a history of organized football hooliganism, including prearranged fights. However, Prochazka left that behind when he started training in mixed martial arts. He has since become a respected athlete and martial artist, achieving success in both Rizin Fighting Federation and the UFC. In addition to his combat sports career, Procházka is also an avid supporter of FC Zbrojovka Brno, a professional football club in his native Czech Republic. He has been seen at matches supporting the team and has expressed his love for the sport of football. Procházka’s transition from football hooliganism to martial arts success highlights the transformative power of sports and dedication to a new path.
Language skills and education
Jiri Procházka is not only skilled in combat sports, but he also has academic achievements. In addition to his native Czech language, he has worked on improving his English proficiency since joining the UFC, and is now conversational in English. He also showed dedication to his studies while competing in both the UFC and Rizin FF, attending Masaryk University and earning a bachelor’s degree in security forces physical fitness policy. Furthermore, he is a graduate of the Protective Service Secondary Academy, which is now known as the Brno School of Law & Security. His educational background and experience may have contributed to his disciplined approach to combat sports.
Catchphrase and nickname
Jiří Procházka’s “BJP” catchphrase has become a popular slogan among his fans and is often used on social media. He has explained that the phrase represents his fighting style, which is aggressive and focused on finishing fights. He also sees it as a metaphor for life, encouraging people to go all out and chase their goals with passion and determination.
Procházka has also developed a popular merchandise brand around the “BJP” catchphrase, selling t-shirts, hats, and other items featuring the slogan. The brand has become a significant part of his personal brand and has helped to further increase his popularity among fans.
In addition to his catchphrase and merchandise brand, Procházka’s nickname, Denisa, has also become well-known among his fans. He earned the nickname during a training camp when his trainer mistakenly called him Denisa, which is a common name for girls in the Czech Republic. Procházka embraced the nickname and has used it as a playful moniker ever since.
Procházka has been residing in a countryside cottage located around 30 minutes away from his hometown of Brno since 2017. The picturesque cottage is situated near a reservoir and has all the necessary amenities, including electricity. However, it lacks a gas connection, and Procházka relies on a well to fetch water. The tranquil setting of his cottage allows him to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and focus on his training and personal life.